Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, China's leading metropolis, handled 17.15 million passengers from overseas last year, up 9.4 percent year-on-year and besting other Chinese airports.
According to the Pudong Entry and Exit Frontier Inspection Station, the figure included a record 9 million foreign passengers, up 8 percent year-on-year.
Beijing's Capital National Airport handled 12.6 million overseas passengers, and Baiyun Airport in Guangzhou ranked third among mainland airports. Figures for Hong Kong were not available at press time.
Frontier inspection officials said that fast economic growth in Shanghai and in the Yangtze River delta, which covers Shanghai and neighboring Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, has attracted increasing numbers of foreign visitors and business people.
More than 80 multinational corporations have set up their regional headquarters in Pudong. And Shanghai has a vibrant conference activity -- in 2006 the city hosted more than 80 international conferences and events, almost two per week, most of which drew more than 3,000 delegates and visitors.
The Shanghai International Art Festival and International Tourism Festival also attracted many foreign visitors.
To cope with increasing number of overseas passengers, Pudong frontier inspection authorities have simplified transit procedures. Foreign passengers stopping over in Shanghai for no more than 48 hours no longer require a visa.
Pudong New District, where Pudong airport is located, was first opened to foreign investors in 1990. It was listed by the central government as a test field for comprehensive reforms last year.
More than 30,000 foreigners now work and live in the district, which is becoming a genuine international community.
(Xinhua News Agency January 9, 2007)